Labour hits out at Healy-Rae's Budget backing

Labour hits out at Healy-Rae's Budget backing

The Labour Party tonight called for Independent TD Jackie Healy-Rae to resign as chairman of the Oireachtas Social and Family Affairs Committee.

The South Kerry TD said he would support the Budget 24 hours before the Government announced 16 euro cuts to child benefit and 4.1% reductions on social welfare.

Labour’s Roisin Shortall said the Independent has no business at the head of a committee examining welfare.

“As an independent TD he has no excuse,” Ms Shortall said.

“He is not bound by any whip, and he is perfectly at liberty to exercise his vote in whatever way he sees fit.”

Mr Healy-Rae said: “But that’s exactly what I did.”

The Independent TD said he has secured commitments from the Taoiseach to invest in Kenmare Hospital. The deal was first included in his 2007 Dáil voting pact to support the Government.

After Mr Healy-Rae struck the deal, he declared: “It has nothing to do with the Budget, but it was one of the things that was in my book.”

Ms Shortall hit out at the Independent’s vote, claiming his support for the Budget “indicates that the man has not as much as an ounce of shame”.

The Labour Party said groups such as the St Vincent de Paul, the Family Support Agency and the Simon Community had briefed the committee over the last few months.

“One after the other these bodies came into the committee and outlined in great detail the hardship that people on low incomes, people who may be homeless, people who have recently lost their jobs, are already suffering,” Ms Shortall said.

“There is no further scope for cutting payments and services as far as these people are concerned, and if Jackie Healy Rea is going to support the proposed cuts, then he should resign.”

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